Tag Archives: Higher Education Authority

More lack of transparency at NUI Galway revealed in big way

There is yet more lack of transparency at NUI Galway.

The University has more than €57 million in a private fund-raising foundation but has resisted declaring the funds despite government pressure, according to a blockbuster story in Tuesday’s Irish Times.

The Campaign has seen such lack of transparency before when it comes to promotions at the University. Some might call it hypocrisy.

The University steadfastly claims that it is ‘comprehensively addressing’ the gender inequality issue, but where is the real change to back up its claim?

If the University is truly addressing gender discrimination, then why have virtually all of the recent appointments for senior posts gone to men? As has been noted before on this website, of the five College Deans — all of whom are male — four have been replaced in the last three years – by four more men!

I think we can all agree that recruitment and appointments should – and must – be transparent at NUI Galway if the University is serious about addressing gender inequality. That’s why it’s so shocking that in NUI Galway’s recent job advertisement for a leader to succeed President Jim Browne, whose term ends next year, there is but a cursory mention of gender equality.

Such a poor reference is particularly glaring because a 2016 Higher Education Authority (HEA) report recommended that new university presidents have leadership skills in advancing gender equality and that this be included in recruitment requirements. (A link for the report is at: http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/hea_review_of_gender_equality_in_irish_higher_education.pdf).

Tuesday’s story in The Irish Times reported that NUI Galway and other colleges have now pledged to be more transparent regarding funds raised by private foundations, but went on to say that an independent review is ongoing at the University of Limerick.

More significantly, that review was resisted by UL until a new president – Prof Des Fitzgerald – took over in recent weeks.

Will the new president at NUI Galway be as forthcoming? And what about gender equality? The Campaign is concerned that if NUI Galway’s advertisement for a new president gives short shrift to gender equality, then the new president will not have the leadership skills to advance such equality – skills that were specifically recommended in last year’s HEA report on gender equality in Irish higher-education institutions.

And what about the origins of that HEA report? Yes, the Campaign has discovered even more questions about transparency.

NUI Galway’s draft of its application for the Athena SWAN Bronze Award at https://www.nuigalway.ie/media/nuigalwayie/content/files/aboutus/DRAFT-Athena-SWAN-Application-March-2017.pdf implies that Dr Browne was personally responsible for the commissioning of the report. The draft application states that:

‘In tandem with the establishment of the Gender Equality Task Force in NUI Galway, the President wrote to the then Chief Executive of the Irish Higher Education Authority and asked that the HEA set up a review of Gender Equality across the Irish Higher Education System. The HEA moved as requested and the HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions, under the chair of Dr Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Former EU Commissioner was established and reported in June 2016.’

If that’s the case, then why are the report’s very specific recommendations so ignored in the presidential recruitment brochure? (downloadable at https://candidates.perrettlaver.com/vacancies/255/president/

The Campaign could find only one mention of ‘gender’ – on Page 21 of the 25-page brochure. ‘Promote gender balance and equality of opportunity among students and employees of the University’ is one of the points listed under ‘Key Responsibilities’. How many points in all are listed? 10. Where does gender equality rank? 8th. And that one mention comes more than four-fifths of the way through the brochure.

Moreover, the Foreword to the 2016 report on gender equality written by the HEA’s chief executive indicates that it was commissioned by the HEA:

‘Reflecting the requirement, enshrined in higher education legislation, for institutions to promote gender-balance among students and staff, and for the Higher Education Authority to promote the attainment of equality of opportunity, we commissioned this review.’ 

There is no mention of NUI Galway requesting the review.

2016 HEA report

The Expert Group’s “HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions”, issued last June, makes a number of recommendations for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

On Page 47 of the report, Point 1.1 states the objective as: “To foster gender balance in the leadership of HEIs” (our emphasis) and recommends that the final pool of candidates for new university president comprise an equal number of women and men.

“The achievement of gender equality needs to be led from the top,” the report continues, “with the ultimate responsibility for its achievement sitting with the HEI president, or equivalent.

“Therefore, it is the Expert Group’s expectation that all candidates for presidential appointments will have demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality, and that this will be included in the recruitment criteria and the framework for evaluating the performance of candidates.”

The report recommendations don’t stop there: Point 1.2 states that the objective is “to ensure HEI leaders foster a culture of gender equality in their HEI” and, to do this, it recommends a requirement of appointment will be demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality.

The actual job description for a new president, as issued by NUI Galway, comes up way short of those recommendations.

The Irish Times story on the foundation funds can be read in full by clicking on this link: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/universities-resisted-declaring-tens-of-millions-in-assets-1.3084158#.WRqUjhwzZng



NUIG Employee Seeks Whistleblower Protection

SUMMARY: The Connacht Tribune reported recently that a ‘senior staff member’ at NUI Galway has sought protection under whistleblower legislation after disclosing concerns to the Higher Education Authority regarding the appointment of people to positions within NUIG and to the use of consultants.

This latest development could eventually shed some light on the endemic gender discrimination and bullying at the university. (The full story follows.)

NUI Galway: subject of whistleblower allegations.
NUI Galway: subject of whistleblower allegations.
by Dara BradleyMar 31, 2016

A senior staff member at NUI Galway has ‘blown the whistle’ on alleged malpractice at the university.

The employee, who has sought protection under whistleblower legislation, has made a series of disclosures to the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

The Department of Education and Skills is aware of the case involving alleged wrongdoing and irregularities.

It is understood that a central feature of the complaint relates to the appointment of people to positions within NUIG and to the use of consultants.

The university denies the allegations levelled by the whistleblower.

NUIG has interviewed staff about the allegations and compiled a report for the HEA.The NUIG report, compiled by a senior member within the institute, is in response to the whistleblower’s dossier. It sets out a rebuttal of the claims.

In a statement in response to a series of questions put to the university, NUIG press office said: “We have no comment on this.”

However, several well placed sources within NUIG have confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that a senior member of staff has made disclosures under the whistleblower legislation that came into force in July, 2014.

The HEA does not comment on individual cases.


You can also read the full Connacht Tribune story online at http://connachttribune.ie/nuig-employee-seeks-whistleblower-protection-475/

Another Year, Another Dismal Performance at NUI Galway

Gender equality group cites worsening statistics

in call to promote 5 female lecturers at NUI Galway

SUMMARY: In a press release issued Tuesday, the Micheline’s Three Conditions Campaign called for the end to just talking about gender equality and actually begin to implement it by promoting the five female lecturers overlooked for promotion since 2009 and who have been forced to take their gender discrimination cases to court. The release was issued in response to 2014 statistics released this week by the Higher Education Authority pointing to NUI Galway’s continued last-place performance among all Irish universities for the promotion of women to senior positions. Below is the press release that was sent to news outlets: 

GALWAY  — With NUI Galway’s latest dismal performance regarding the number of women in senior posts, the Micheline’s Three Conditions Campaign is demanding the end to rhetoric and calling for real change at the university, beginning with the promotions of five female lecturers who have had to take their fight to court.

Newly released Higher Education Authority (HEA) national statistics for 2014 confirm that NUI Galway is still at the bottom – across the board among all Irish universities – for the percentage of women in senior academic positions, with the percentage of associate professors who are women actually decreasing. The poor performance came despite the university’s claim that it takes gender equality seriously and has launched initiatives, such as a Gender Equality Task Force, to address the long-standing problem.

“These statistics prove what we’ve been saying all along – that NUI Galway talks about its commitment to gender equality but, in actuality, is only going through the motions to do something about it,” said Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. “Real change can only come about by promoting a higher percentage of qualified women. That’s why we are calling for the immediate promotions of the five female lecturers who were denied promotions in 2009 and are now battling for their rights in court, costing them thousands of their own euro along with the stress of going against the juggernaut institution of NUIG.” The former NUI Galway botanist’s landmark win a year ago in the Equality Tribunal set off the firestorm for the call for gender equality not just at the Galway institution but at universities throughout Ireland. “One year on today –what real changes have come about?” she asked.

The breakdown of the latest figures released by the HEA shows that the number of female junior lecturers at NUI Galway increased from 52% in 2013 to 53% in 2014. Yet, contrary to the university’s claims of improving gender equality, the percentage of female associate professors fell from 13% in 2013 to 10% in 2014 while the percentage of female senior lecturers and professors remained the same at 30% and 14%, respectively. The Irish Federation of University Teachers said this was the poorest performance of any university across all three senior grades.

As a whole, however, the seven universities included in the HEA statistics did not fare much better. All together, the percentage of female junior lecturers increased from 50% in 2013 to 51% in 2014. Yet, the percentage of female associate professors dropped dramatically from 26% in 2013 to 20% last year while the percentage of senior lecturers who are women went from 35% to 34% and, for female professors, from 19% to 20% those years. Ireland is still bottom of the European list after Malta, with the second-highest Glass Ceiling Index for female academics.

The campaign states that NUI Galway is more interested in publishing rhetoric and improving the university’s public relations than actually confronting gender bias. Members cite that Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway president, said in an Irish Times article published in May 2015 that the university recognised the problem with gender discrimination in 2009 when only one of 17 promotions to senior lecturer went to a woman. Browne said he “led and pushed” the Governing Authority to agree to a quota system. “But the figures don’t lie,” said Rose Foley of the Micheline’s Three Conditions campaign. “The truth is that the proportion of women in senior posts actually dropped in 2014.”